Sunday, September 06, 2015

100 Days: Official corruption down by 50 percent – Garba Shehu

Bashir: vanguard

Mallam Garba Shehu, one-time President of the
Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), is Senior Special
Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media
and Publicity. In this interview, Shehu gives reasons
Nigerians should eschew sentiments about the
administrative style of his principal as, according to
him, Buhari will not be judged after four years based
on ethnic or religious benchmarks but on
performance. He, however, says appointments will
go round according to the Constitution as the
President is a law and order person. He also speaks
on Buhari's 100 days in office, corruption, the
economy, etc.

Nigerians are divided in their reactions to President
Muhammadu Buhari's appointments which many
people described as pro-North. How are these
decisions expected to take Nigeria to achieving the
set goals?

President Buhari is President with responsibility for
the entire Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is not a
sectional leader. Appointments will be made one
step at a time. Others are still coming and it will
even run like that throughout the four years of the
mandate of the administration. What people should
have on this matter is patience. Those who feel they
have not been reached will definitely be reached. A
government that has a lifespan of four years should
not be judged by its action on day one. No. It
should be that by the time the President says, 'Now, I
have finished my appointments', they should be able
to look at it and pass judgment as to whether he was
fair to all sections of the country or not.

The Constitution of the country protects every part in
terms of representation, in terms of clear guidelines
as to Federal Character, in terms of representation to
give a sense of belonging to everybody.

President Muhammadu Buhari is a law and order
person. He is a Constitution-oriented person. He
will not fail Nigerians and he will do what is right.
We think that much of the anger that is coming is
emotional and premature because there are
thousands of appointments that can come. And then
on the aggregate, people will look at it and judge.

Let me give you an example. When former President
Goodluck Jonathan took over, in the first 50
appointments he made, the South -West was not
represented. There was a document widely
circulated; and even translated into Yoruba and was
being aired on local radio stations in the South West
and people were being told, "This is not your
government. This is what they are doing."

In the appointments President Buhari has made so
far, people should, first and foremost, take
consolation in the fact that those he found in the
offices, he was not in a hurry to fire them quickly just
because he felt he did not appoint them. This is the
first time we are witnessing this kind of attitude to
governance in Nigeria. This country has a spoilt
system by which a new government will fire
everybody in office so that they could bring in their
own people. President Buhari is doing his own on a
case-by-case basis insisting that whoever is there for
the good of the country and is adding value to the
nation, it would be unfair to carelessly fire him. And
this is essential because four years down the line,
when Nigerians come to assess what nature of
governance President Buhari has given to this nation,
the record of success will not be measured by the
number of ethnically or religiously based
appointments he made. He will be
measured by how many jobs he has created, how
much of the prevailing corruption in the country he
has curtailed, how much of the infrastructure
including power and roads he has fixed and how
secured we are because he will be asked whether he
has eliminated Boko Haram. These are the things
the judgment of his administration will be based
upon and on these he is not wavering. He has given
100 percent attention to all of them and people who
are kind to him should give him the environment that
he needs in order to do more.

How is the President taking the public outcry against
his anti-corruption campaign, considering the fact
that one of the cardinal reasons he was voted into
office was to fight corruption before it kills Nigeria?
Well, it must be disappointing not being appreciated
but, beyond all of that, President Buhari is not the
gallery kind of politician, who wants to get applause
by being populist in his actions. He is looking at the
bigger national interest and he believes that he is
making a huge sacrifice.

Given all of the service he had rendered to this
country, assuming things were going right for the
nation, he would have been happier enjoying his rest
somewhere. But he ran to be (civilian) President of
this country three times and didn't make it until the
fourth time when Nigerians felt it was the right time
for him to come and govern them. Things have
changed since then. If he had come in 2003, I would
say things were bad. Now, things are rotten so
much so that there is far more work to do than there
were in 2003. So, he is making a huge sacrifice to
bring back the nation to the point of sanity and clean
all the mess. Yes, corruption is a cancer that has
eaten deep into the fabrics of the nation. Without it
being addressed, there will not be development in
the country. Foreign investments will not come,
better life will not come into Nigeria, education will
not run well, economy will be shackled, undermined
infrastructure will not work well.

Look at what is happening with electric power. As I
speak to you now, there are so many parts of the
country that are enjoying 24-hour power supply.
Some,16 hours, some 20 hours daily. Not many
people thought this was possible until it came under
President Buhari. And people will be shocked to
learn that this government has not started to pump
money into this thing, yet, it has started to work.

Then what did he do to make it so?

It is the body language of the President and doing the
right thing so that all the laziness and sabotage in
that sector took flight. We now have far more
generated power than we had ever generated in this

It is not to say that it is adequate for 170
million people but, given the narrowness of the
distribution, the power that is being generated today
is far more than what the system of generation can
handle. So, that poses the next challenge, that is, to
expand and renew generation per grid and then
make more power to be distributed. So that with the
national grid system, if they call Abuja and say, 'We
have more power for you', they will be glad and say,
'Oh, pump it', so that they will give it to people for
them to enjoy.

So, we are getting somewhere and the President
promised during the campaign period that if he was
voted into office, from the day he was sworn in,
official corruption would go down by 50 percent.
Voluntarily, people relinquished 50 percent of the
corruption that prevailed in the country and that is
what has happened.

A member of the House of Representatives recently
alerted over a particular distribution company
covering his constituency in Oyo State, and its
territory extends to Abeokuta, Ijoko, Ota areas of
Ogun State, how they are making epileptic power the
order of the day whereas other Nigerians are
enjoying. Don't you think things like this will sabotage
President Buhari's effort on power if nothing is done
to really check these DISCOs?

They have their own system. Under the system put
in place by the National Council on Privatization,
distribution companies are supposed to be fined for
even taking light thereby not allowing the people to
access the power that is allocated to them from the
national grid. I want to believe that such penalty will
be meted out to them for failing in discharging their
duties to the people once found to be so.
The Central Bank of Nigeria reportedly said the
economy was at this state because there were no
fiscal directions….?

(Cuts in) Nobody will tell you that there is no fiscal
direction. President Buhari knows where he is
going. Look at what is happening in the country with
oil, in terms of failed price, which has come down
from $120 to $43 per barrel and the prediction is
that, it may even fall further. With sanctions on Iran
being gradually removed, by the time Iran resume
their place in the oil market, they will pump more oil
and the price will still come down, coupled with the
fact that this country has a record of unprecedented
oil theft that President Buhari is trying to curtail and
eliminate eventually. Therefore, the earnings of the
country are down and a responsible government
must do whatever it can in order to reduce the
wastage of foreign exchange. Government is trying
to manage that.

Look at the issue of importation of rice; billions of US
dollars expended on this, on a commodity that is
locally growable and is available. Seven states have
already taken the challenge under this government
and they are saying, 'We can provide Nigeria with rice
to export beyond our capacity to consume'. But
there are other things that are so frivolous and
annoying just like where Nigerians buy tooth pick
from China. So, what they (CBN) are saying is,
'Manufacturers or somebody setting up industry or a
productive venture, going overseas on medical,
school fees and all of that, don't even go to the
parallel market. Come to the CBN, we will give you
forex. But if it is frivolous items that they have listed
and advertised, no, go elsewhere and source your
foreign exchange'. And that is why even when oil
price has gone down, our foreign reserve has risen.
But in its own assessment, the main opposition party,
PDP, said the economy had worsened under the
Buhari's 90, 100 days administration. How do you
react to that?

It depends on their judgment about assessing an
economy. May be they are talking about their
personal economy that it is worse than it used to be.
They ran an economy in which they put government
money on the table and shared it. This is what
President Buhari has stopped.

Nigerians should be patient with Mr. President. By
the time he addresses the nation on the recoveries
that are being made in the oil sector, in the national
security sector that has come under probe now; of
procurement of weapons and this Air Force jet that
crashed killing pilots of the Nigerian Armed Forces! …
because people bought equipment that were left
unattended to, you see, by the time President Buhari
will address the nation on all these, a day will come
when people in the street will ask, 'Are you PDP?' and
you will reply, 'No, I am not PDP'. Yes. And it will be
so because of the shame to answer the name of PDP.
So, the economy of the PDP is under threat. The
economy of the Nigerian nation is being revived.
What could you really point to of this government's
achievements in the last 100 days?

It is too early to assess the government or any
government in terms of its failure or success in 100
days. But 100 days are sufficient enough to know
and understand a leader and his government on
where they stand on issues of the day; where they
are coming from and where they are going. So,
there is enough on the table for Nigerians to see and
understand President Buhari, where he is going to
and he has given clear indications as to where he
stands on issues of the day.

He would not steal money and would not allow
others to steal. He would reinstate our international
relations, which had been mismanaged. America,
Europe, even our neighbors, now we are friends with
everybody. President Buhari would be business
friendly. Foreign investments will come because he
is bent on creating a secured environment. He is
going to defeat terrorism. He has given three
months' timeline to the service commanders and
they have accepted the challenge. They are saying,
'Mr. President, we can even do it in shorter period of
time'. They are doing it and it is ongoing. So,
infrastructure is being revived. We just talked about
power now which industry is happy about. And the
thing then is to continue to expand the generation
and distribution of power and this is there in the APC
manifesto of more than 20,000 megawatts in four
years. We hope that we will get there.

There is going to be massive transformation of
agriculture and mining, because those are where the
jobs are, so that all these young people will be
cleared off the streets by the jobs in agriculture and
mining unless they are not willing. Already we are
enjoying dividends of peace. Neighborhoods are
becoming safer. People are sleeping nicely and
dreaming sweet dreams because security is getting
better. More of these will come. So, President
Muhammadu Buhari has given indication and I think,
by-and-large, 90 percent or more of Nigerians are
happy and are identifying with the direction he is

There would be a few people, as I said, especially
PDP, who are not happy. How will they be happy?
Governor Adams Oshiomhole said somebody stole
$6 billion. That person will be a fool if he doesn't
bring out one billion, two billion (Naira) to go and
compromise public opinion and try to corrupt the
judiciary with that kind of money. So, we expect
attacks would come. These are people who pay for
Buhari to be attacked, but he would not be deterred
because he is determined to remain on course.

When do we have our ministers?

The ministers will come.

AbleMoJah® Nigeria.

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